We have been supplying and fitting quality footwear for over 40 years and take great pride in our 3 stores providing a superb fitting service. However, we understand that many customers can’t get to one of our shops to benefit from this service, so for all those that need to buy online, this is our way of helping you make the right choice before purchasing.
Another big consideration when assessing your own foot is the shape of your Arch. This is a difficult one as it is awkward to see when you are standing up. You can get a rough idea by sitting down and crossing your leg however the shape normally changes when you are weighting it.
A good way is to prop your phone against the wall in selfie mode, line your foot up and take a pic
The shape of your arch can provide several problems with finding the right footwear.
Low Arch – Generally means that your foot will take up less volume or space inside the footwear, potentially leading to unwanted movement even when the footwear is laced up firmly. People with low arches also often suffer from extension or lengthening of the foot when weighted.
Normal Arch – This should provide no issues when trying on most footwear.
High Arch – Generally means your foot will require more space or volume, especially in the area behind the tongue and laces. On rare occasions people with very high arches find that the laces are too short to do up easily, you would also notice pressure across the top of your foot in this instance.
The shape of your arch can also contribute to issues like over pronation, supination and general stability problems. Ankle and knee pain are also associated so if you are suffering from any of the above be sure to check out SUPERFEET as they can be an out of the box solution.
Other common issues
Bunions - a bony lump on the inside of your foot near the base of the big toe. They are quite common and they’re particularly prevalent among older women. Often a soft and wide fitting boot is needed to accommodate them. Instore we offer a boot stretching service in particularly bad cases.
Hammer toe – Often affects the second toe especially if you have a Greek foot shape. Can cause the hammered toe to rub on the top of the toe box which leads to discomfort. Buying a boot with a roomy toe box is the key.
Haglunds deformity – A bony lump on the back of the heel that can cause irritation and pain in that area. Some features to look for will be a roomier heel cup and any mention of extra cushioning or memory foam inserts in the heel/ankle area.
Measuring your foot
Now you have a good idea about your foot shape, the next step is accurately measuring your foot for length and width/volume
All you need is a piece of A4 plain paper, a pencil, a tape measure or ruler, a piece of string and a flat firm surface preferably next to a wall.
- Mark a line down the middle of the paper
- Line the paper up against wall
- Stand on the paper with your heel touching the wall and your foot centred forward along the line
- Mark a line at the longest point of your toes and label it “A”
- Do the same as above with the other foot and label it “B”
- Take the string and pass it round your foot at the widest point until it meets, lay it along the edge of the paper and mark from the one end to the point it met and label “C”
- Repeat for the other foot and label “D”
Now you have done the marking it should be a simple job to measure and get a fairly accurate result.
- Take your ruler and measure from the back edge of the paper to the mark you made at the longest point of your foot (marks “A” and “B”) making sure to keep the ruler parallel with the centre line, record the results in Millimetres.
Place your ruler point along the edge of the paper and measure and record marks “C” and “D” in Millimetres.
Great stuff, we have a result and all you need to do now is check the table below to find out how your measurement in millimetres translates into EU and UK sizing, which you need to know for the next step, selecting the correct footwear, in the correct size!
One word of warning, this is only a guide and although we have done our best to get it as close as possible there are 4 or 5 different methods of measurement used when constructing footwear around the world. Models and Brands sizings vary greatly. Please see our “Footwear fitters notes” to get a better understanding of each model.
Fun Fact – 1 UK shoe size is equivalent to the length of “one barley corn” which was deemed to be 1/3rd of an inch or 8.47mm. This dates from the 14th century or thereabouts.
|UK Size||Length (mm)||Narrow||Standard||Wide||Extra Wide|
|EU Size||Length (mm)||Narrow||Standard||Wide||Extra Wide|
SELECTING THE CORRECT BOOTS OR SHOES
So, this is the fun bit and the bit that when we are chatting to customers instore, we enjoy the most. Working out what you, the customer, wants and needs from your footwear.
We make every effort to get the correct footwear on to our customers feet when fitting instore.
The staff have learnt to ask the right questions to make sure that not only are you getting a great fit, but that the boot or shoe you are buying is correct for the terrain and usage you will put it through.
Maybe you are just starting to take up walking as a serious hobby, maybe you have been doing a bit over the last few years but in ill-suited footwear or maybe you have been serious for a while and want to upgrade to a more technical product which offers better performance.
Sometimes you just don’t really know what you want to do and need a bit of advice, hopefully reading on will narrow down your choices and make selecting the right product easy.
We have come up with some examples of the type of walker you might be, or aspire to be, so that you can match the boots construction and performance characteristics to your own usage.
Dog walker – Not to be underestimated! You are probably the category that are doing the most mileage per year as you will be out every day come rain or shine.
We recommend looking at boots or shoes that are easy to keep clean and dry as you might wear them twice per day. Leather boots are easiest to clean and proof and will normally come with a deeper tread on the sole unit than a shoe so potentially last longer as well. Scarpa Ranger, Lowa Renegade, Meindl Peru and Altberg Fremington are all good places to start.
Casual walker – You like a nice walk at the weekend, probably in the spring, summer and autumn months when the weather is a bit more pleasant and the paths and trails are in better condition.
We recommend looking at lightweight fabric boots or shoes. They will keep your feet a bit cooler than a leather model, will feel lighter and slightly softer around the foot and quite often have a softer midsole to add even more comfort. ON Cloudrock, Meindl Respond mid, Scarpa Mistral, Keen Targhee mid and Merrell Moab mid are all good choices. If you would prefer leather then Scarpa Terra, Altberg Malham and Meindl Meran are good alternatives.
Weekend warrior – Committed to getting out there in any weather and looking for adventures off the beaten track, where the terrain may be more severe under foot.
We recommend looking at boots with a stiffer midsole and more ankle support to help control the foot and reduce movement when contouring and walking on uneven ground. A boot that comes up higher will also naturally add waterproofing. Altberg Tethera or Nordkapp, Scarpa Trek or Delta, Meindl Kansas or Bhutan and as a lightweight alternative, the Salomon Quest 4D all fit the bill.
Long distance walker – You like multi day treks. Missions like the John Muir trail, Tour du Mont Blanc, GR20, Wainright’s Coast to Coast and others interest you.
We recommend looking at lightweight boots, keeping the weight on the end of your foot to a minimum over a long distance will pay off by making your calves much less tired at the end of each day. The Salomon Quest 4D, Salomon Women’s Quest prime and Scarpa cyclone will be perfect. You could also use trail shoes and add waterproof socks if the weather looks wet and you don’t need the ankle support of a boot. This is a great way to keep the weight down.
Technical ridge walker / scrambler – you are keen on finding Steep rocky ground with exposed traverses where the walking is committing and requires fitness and skill.
We recommend looking at either a stiff technical boot that edges well or a specialist approach shoe that has been designed for low grade scrambling or climbing. You need the confidence in your feet that products like these provide so check out the Scarpa SL, Lasportiva Trango GTX, Scarpa Geko, Boreal Flyer and Scarpa Crux and Lasportiva BoulderX, all good options.
Winter walker – It will be more likely that you are in one of the other categories above and want to add a more specialist product to your boot collection for the odd occasion we actually get a winter or just as a bad weather alternative. Any waterproof leather boot has the potential to be capable of winter walking but certain models allow you to fit a Crampon to your boot for occasional use on frozen snow and ice and offer more protection and warmth.
We recommend looking at the Scarpa SL, Altberg Tethera and Meindl Vakuum as good general purpose winter boots. We also sell the Scarpa Manta tech and Lasportiva Trango tower If you need a more specialist boot for extended snowy trips.
Using fitting products for fine adjustment
We have many tools in the shops to help get the perfect fit and with the feedback from the staff and the products below we nearly always succeed. You are unlikely to have these products at home unless you have already had to experiment with fitting so we are providing a brief description below of what they do and how to use them.
Socks – This might sound obvious but it is probably one of the most common mistakes we see in store when customers bring poor quality or old worn socks in when they come to try on footwear. If you don’t own a quality pair of socks that were designed for walking boots you don’t know what you are missing. It often makes the difference between a good fit and a great fit. Quality socks have a better fit due to zones of extra cushioning, elastication in all the right places and generally have a high merino and synthetic fibre content with very little, if any, cotton content. We always recommend starting with a Light weight or Mid weight sock unless you specifically suffer with cold feet or need the extra cushioning around the whole foot and ankle/ shin area due to sensitivity issues.
Shop staff favourites include the Bridgedale Hike Midweight merino and Smartwool Hike medium crew
Volume reducers – The most common tool we use in the shops to get a good fit. It is a 3mm thick layer of stiff foam in the shape of a footbed, which you place under the original footbed of the boot or shoe to get a snugger fit. It basically removes some space from the internal width and height of the boot but does not affect the length. They are particularly useful when you are struggling to make your mind up between sizes, and often essential for those of you with a low arch or narrow width measurement. They are trimmable so use the original footbed as a pattern to get a good fit.
Tongue depressors – Another product that caters for those of you with a lower volume foot. If you are struggling to get the lacing tight enough on your boot of choice then combining these with a set of volume reducers normally reduces or completely removes unwanted movement of the foot inside the footwear.
Heel Lifts – These are often used to reduce the pressure placed on your Achilles tendon but can also be a useful tool if you suffer from Plantar fasciitis too. Not strictly a fitting tool for adjustment but something to consider if you suffer mild discomfort in the Achilles or sole of your foot.2
Superfeet – Quite often the Superfeet inserts can be the difference between getting a fit, or not, if you struggle with finding boots or shoes. They are a one stop solution for reducing many fit problems like over extension, heel lift, over pronation, heel lift and low volume etc. They are particularly good at reducing hip and knee pain and foot issues such as Plantar fasciitis
Check out the Superfeet brand page on our website
Trialling Footwear at home
Now you have invested in some boots or shoes it’s time to make sure they are the right fit at home before wearing them outdoors. Here are a few pointers to go through before deciding to keep your new purchase
- Check the size on the box and the size inside both boots correspond to the size you ordered and have a quick look over the boots for any defects
- Put your hand inside and remove the footbeds, lay them on the floor and stand on them making sure to line your foot up correctly, you should now be able to see that there is a gap of around 10mm between the longest toe and the front of the footbed
- Replace the footbeds making sure that they are flat and aligned well to the shape of the inside of the boot
- Put on your favourite walking socks and put the boots on, lacing them up firmly. Our rule of thumb (or finger in this case) is that you should not be able to wiggle your finger under any of the lacing points, if you can they are probably too loose and you will notice some movement of you foot inside the boot
- Try placing your hand across the forefoot and squeezing the sides of the boot, is there much movement of the leather or fabric, if so, the boot maybe too wide for you. If you can feel immediate pressure or discomfort across the width of your foot it is likely the boot is too narrow
- Walk around the house and leave them on for periods of half an hour to an hour at a time, if you have stairs try them up and down a few times
Are you noticing any discomfort?
Common issues are
- Toes touching the inside of the front of the boot when walking downhill. This normally means the boot is too small, however relacing firmly with the foot as far back in the heel cup as possible often fixes the problem
- Toes touching the top of the boot when walking uphill as the boot flexes. This normally means the boot has a little too much volume for your foot. This can sometimes be fixed with a volume reducer and a thicker sock
- Can you feel the boot pressing in on the sides of your foot at all? This will normally cause a dull ache after a few minutes. If you experience this then the boot may be too narrow however this feeling often goes away after an hour or two of wear if it is only a mild ache. Try a thinner sock if you have one
- Any hot spots? by this we mean areas on your foot that feel quite literally hot. This normally signifies rubbing due to movement of your foot inside the boot. Relacing firmly often helps alleviate the problem, have you got a good quality well-fitting sock on?
If you are experiencing any problems then please follow the link expert footwear fit help where one of our staff members will be able to help
If you are confident that none of the issues above are going to cause you any foot pain then its time to get out there and use your new Boots. ENJOY!
How to look after your product of choice
Now you own a really nice quality pair of boots or shoe it is time to take care of your investment. You want them to last as long as possible and cleaning and reproofing them is the key to this, plus a well proofed boot is so much nicer to wear than a dirty, soon to be soggy boot if it is wet out there.
Mud is generally of an acidic nature in the UK and as such it does a good job of drying out leather, and weakening stitching. If a leather has dried sufficiently it becomes almost rock hard and splits and cracks easily. It also puts undue pressure on that stitching that has also been affected by the mud. It will also have a similar effect on fabric, nubuck and suede. So, leaving your boots dirty for long periods of time will mostly lead them to leak and fall apart a lot quicker.
Cleaning your footwear is easy and as simple as running them under a tap or hose and rinsing the mud off. If it is still wet it comes off pretty easily. If it has dried then a soft to medium stiff bristle brush and a bit of warm water normally does the trick. If they still don’t look good then try these 2 products, Grangers Footwear and gear cleaner or Nikwax Footwear cleaning gel
Once your footwear is clean it is time to reproof it. This helps to stop ingress of water into the leather or fabric and makes the boots much nicer to wear. It also retains their breathability and makes the boot lighter to wear in prolonged wet conditions.
Let’s run through the different materials used in footwear and the best way to reproof them
Full Grain Leather - After cleaning, leave to dry in a warm well-ventilated place. Once they are dry use a shoe brush or soft cloth to apply wax evenly over all outer features of the boot, taking care to properly cover rivets and stitching where the leather overlaps. A neutral colour cream or wax is convenient as it can be used across all of your leather boots and shoes, but a colour matched wax is good for covering any scuffs or scratches. Allow a few minutes for the product to be absorbed into the leather.
Now buff firmly with the brush or cloth to work the residue into the leather, be sure to buff all parts of the boot, you should be able to see a great difference in the surface of the leather, it should look smoother, darker and healthier.
If you’re often using the boots in wet environments such as marshes, bogs and wet grass, it never hurts to repeat this process working in more wax for optimal water resistance.
We recommend Ledergris, G-wax or HS12 cream for full grain leather
Nubuck - If you’re looking to retain the improved breathability that a nubuck finish gives you, and also keep the aesthetics of the boot the same, then using a water based proofing spray while the boot is still wet from cleaning will do a great job. Simply spray on to the wet boot and leave to dry in a warm well-ventilated area.
If you really want to optimise water resistance, you can wax nubuck in the same way that you would a boot made up of whole grain leather, however this will alter the Nubuck into a finish resembling a whole grain leather. One note of caution, once you have waxed your Nubuck boots, it is not possible to return them to the Nubuck finish, so consider it carefully.
We recommend Grangers footwear repel plus or Nikwax Nubuck and suede proof
Fabric and Suede – Many different types of footwear use a mixture of fabric and suede, or a synthetic version of suede in some cases. This is generally to improve breathability in the fabric areas and add abrasion resistance in the suede areas. Due to the complex pattern of panels, it is often not possible to reproof them individually. This is not a problem as both Grangers and Nikwax have formulated proofer to do the job on both at the same time. Simply use a water based proofing spray while the boot is still wet from cleaning and allow to dry naturally.
We recommend Grangers footwear repel plus or Nikwax Fabric and suede proof
General foot care
- Nails - Often overlooked but a little bit of attention in this area can go a long way to improving your walks in the future. Make sure all toe nails are trimmed with no sharp edges, they can and will damage those nice walking socks and potentially the waterproof lining inside the boot too. They have also been the cause of many sore toes when they are left to grow too long and they do actually hit the inside of the boots
- Skin care – Hard skin is not ideal in most cases as it tends to crack which is extremely uncomfortable when you are on a long walk. Try removing the hard skin around the toes and heels with a pumice stone and moisturising your feet before your next long walk
- Socks – mentioned above a few times but it is worth saying again, a badly fitting sock will only cause you problems. Blistering and hot spots due to rubbing where a loose sock has creased up are common. Get a decent pair! and if you suffer from particularly sweaty feet, get 2 pairs and change into the fresh pair half way through your day out, it will make all the difference
- Prevention – Sometimes it is just not possible to avoid every little rub inside a boot, blisters and hot spots are the most common incidents people suffer from on long walks. Carrying products like the Compeed plasters or blister stick can make a big difference. Applying them before it becomes a big issue is the best idea. Many people who suffer from bunions plaster them up before heading out for the day to stop them rubbing